Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

No no-no

Well, the Twins broke up the no-hit bid with a Joe Mauer single to center in the top of the ninth, but that was about it for the visitors.

Twins lose 4-0.

I've always been conflicted about whether it's cool to cheer for a guy who has a no-hitter going against your favorite team. In this case, obviously, it would have been a team effort, but that's still pretty rare.

I was fired up when Mauer lined his single up the middle, which tells me that, deep down, I didn't want to see the Twins get no-hit.

So now I know.

Mining is pretty much out as a future career

The story of the Chilean miners is remarkable.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38816833/ns/world_news-americas

Todd Russell, an Australian miner who went through a similar ordeal in 2006, described how he and his partner survived for two weeks while trapped in a small cage some 3,000 feet below ground.

"We were stuck ... in a small pocket of air. We couldn't stand up or even sit up. We had to lie down on our backs. If one of us was on our back, the other had to lie on his side for 14 days. We were tossing and turning on sharp rocks and being cut to pieces. We were really worried about the cuts getting infected.

"We had no food or water for the first six days. ... We had to urinate into our helmets so we could collect something to drink.

"It was also very hot and humid down there but, because of the flow-through of air from fans that were blowing through into the level we were on, we were also suffering from hypothermia (because of the cold air blowing on our sweat). We had to cuddle each other to keep our body cores warm."

That's hard to fathom. It gives me chills just thinking about it. One thing's for certain: becoming a miner is kind of out of the picture as a future career.

Interesting suggestion via one of the comments to the article:

"Lower some iphones or other media systems loaded with a ton of games, movies, books, etc, and then lower broadband ethernet and USB lines in order to keep them online, recharged, and feeling more in charge. They could even play online games, instant message, read up on cabin fever, SAD, and whatnot."

I don't know the logistics of lowering those items, but it seems plausible considering officials have lowered other necessities to the trapped miners.

What would you want if you were in a similar predicament? I think I agree with the commenter — give me some form of media entertainment, a means to communicate with the outside world, stay abreast of current events and plenty of reading material.

Oh, and a pizza. I'd want a pizza, too.

Another question: Do you think you could survive up to four months in a similar situation? That would be brutal.

It worked! Kind of. Not really at all.

It kind of worked.

Harden was pulled within about two minutes of my post. He pitched 6 2/3 no-hit innings before Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled him. In other words, he got Slowey-ed.

The Rangers will take a team no-no into the ninth.

No-hitter, no-hitter, no-hitter!

Let's see if this works.

The Rangers' Rich Harden has a no-hitter going against the Twins. A no-hitter. In progress.

Karma, do your thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Brian Duensing, who are you?

Where the hell did Brian Duensing come from?

Last year he kind of emerged as a dependable long reliever, started getting thrust into pivotal late-inning situations and eventually transitioned to the starting rotation, where he excelled down the stretch. Hell, Duensing was the Twins' starter in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees — at Yankee Stadium, no less, and against CC Sabathia, who earns roughly $25 mil a year while Duensing probably pulled down somewhere around $300K in 2009.

Duensing's back on that horse. Valuable reliever turned starter, and again, the lefty is thriving. He's our best arm in the rotation right now. Which leads back to my original query: where did he come from? I don't remember ever hearing his name prior to the 2009 season, so it's unlikely he was a rising star in the organization.

As I've done with every single question I've ever had, I turned to Google. Here is what I found:

Brian Duensing is 5-11, 205 pounds. He was born Feb. 22, 1983 in Marysville, KS. He went to college at Nebraska and was a third-round draft pick of the Twins in 2005. His career ERA is 2.78 in 168 1/3 innings. This season, Duensing is 7-1 with a 1.92 ERA.

Duensing led the Twins to a decisive 7-2 victory over the Angels on Friday night, allowing a lone run in eight innings (six strikeouts, no walks, six hits) to help the Twins bounce back from the Thursday night debacle against the White Sox. They are back to 20 games over .500 and lead the Sox by 4.5 games in the Central (Chicago was rained out Friday).

In his past two starts, Duensing has allowed one earned run in 17 innings (including a complete-game shutout of Oakland). He's 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA since joining the rotation last month. Oh, and Friday against the Angels, he induced 16 groundball outs.

Not too effin' shabby.

By the way, he's making $417,000 this year. That's a pretty stellar value.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Must-read

Powerful stuff:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/38771115/ns/today-today_health/

Favorite line: "The object isn’t to live as long as you can, but as well as you can."

Angel misplaced in the outfield

I don't like seeing Torii Hunter in right field.

Also, Jim Thome is slower than dial-up Internet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Skully & Screws returns to the air

TwinkieTown is proud to announce that the Skully & Screws show is returning to the airwaves this fall on ESPN 560.

Skully and I again will be calling high school football games, starting with a Sept. 3 doubleheader at PSS. I think it's a doubleheader and I'm relatively sure it's at PSS. I didn't concern myself a great deal with the facts. It will be fun.

Somehow (bribery), we got asked back after last year. Perhaps it was all the times we asked listeners to "e-mail the booth" and then proceeded to read texted questions from our buddies. That's probably it. Or the time we spent a good 20 minutes describing Skully's Halloween costume, or the roughly 96 times Skully told me I had a voice that could make a wolf pur. Whatever it was, it worked.

Until then, I will be busy moving. I hate moving. It's number two on my list of least-favorite things, right below the month of January. Number three on the list? People who drive slow in the left lane. Also, number four is the tomato. Are you a vegetable or a member of the fruit family?

I am moving to West Duluth. Less than a block from PSS, ironically enough (I don't know why that would be ironic). With a fellow by the name of Mark Connor. His dog's name is Mauer. I want to buy a similar-looking dog and name it Joe. Wouldn't that be an effin' riot!

Speaking of Joe Mauer, the Twins lost tonight. Rarely am I ok with a loss, but they just didn't have it tonight, and that's fine. It happens. Carl Pavano apparently decided to pitch with his left hand, and that's cool. Have a little fun, big guy.

The Twins are four games in front of the White Sox. The Angels come to Target Field this weekend. I'm actually going to Saturday's game. Actually, I'm not.

I am running a half-marathon Saturday morning in the bustling metropolis of Mora. I did this race last year and wasn't a huge fan. So naturally I am doing it again. We basically run for two miles through the small town (very cool) and the rest is spent on a county highway zipping past stalks of corn (not so much coolness). It gets rather boring. And hot. But, alas, I'm an idiot. So I will do it again.

After that, it's back home to rest and mentally prepare for Hoghead. So everything I accomplish Saturday morning, in terms of exercise and good health and calorie loss, will completely be undone Saturday night. I fully believe the more calories you consume, the more eventful your night is. Does that make sense? I just thought of it, so probably not. I am going to refine that theory and revisit it at a later date.

Probably Sunday when I am upset at the previous night's caloric consumption.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Give Gardy credit

The Twins are leading the White Sox 7-5 in the top of the seventh inning. A win tonight would push the Twins' Central Division cushion to five games.

It's pretty remarkable, really, considering the adversity this club has dealt with. Beyond that, it's a testament to the man pulling the strings, Ron Gardenhire.

Fans are always quick to lament and second-guess their favorite team's manager. It's a sport in and of itself, but it's hard to argue with the job Gardenhire has done since replacing the iconic Tom Kelly after the 2001 season.

Gardy has a knack for pushing the right buttons. Sure, he makes mistakes, but find a manager who doesn't screw up over a 162-game season. Not possible. It's a daily grind for six months. Consider the laundry list of hurdles the Twins have overcome this season:

• Injuries: Every team battles the injury bug, but it's been especially cruel to the Twins. Justin Morneau, arguably the Twins' most valuable player and best hitter, hasn't played since before the All-Star break. Orlando Hudson and JJ Hardy have both missed large chunks of time. Ditto for Nick Punto. Basically, the entire infield has seen extensive time on the DL.

• Joe Mauer: Mauer just recently caught fire. Prior to his recent surge, he was a .300 hitter with hardly any power. Not awful, but a far cry from his jaw-dropping 2009 campaign.

• Inconsistent pitching: The starters stumbled and bumbled through June. Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn — recently demoted to Triple-A, but a member of the rotation for the bulk of the season — all sport ERAs well north of 4.

• That Joe Nathan guy: The team's all-world closer is spending 2010 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Nathan, who has anchored the bullpen seemingly forever, gave the Twins a security blanket they've lacked, meaning more mixing and matching — and nail-biting.

• Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer, immensely valuable for his versatility and willingness to bounce all over the field, is definitely not replicating his offensive wizardry of a year ago. He's sturdy, but not the same guy who carried the Twins for much of August and September in 2009.

• Atrocious outfield defense: Denard Span is having a down year, even on defense, and Delmon Young often looks like he's trying to catch a butterfly instead of a routine flyball. Jason Kubel, forced into action in right field when Cuddyer moved to first, makes the easy plays but doesn't cover much real estate (minus Tuesday's mind-boggling web gem).

Those bullet points are a lot to overcome. And yet, the Twins have thrived. Gardy puts his players in position to succeed (see Crain, Jesse). He manages personalities and egos and gives his guys the freedom to play stress-free. He defines roles and sticks to them. He can lay down the hammer when necessary. And he instills a certain brand of baseball in his team — play hard, play the right way, do the little things ... all those tired cliches that, collectively, forge an identity that suits this ballclub.

Again, Gardy's far from perfect. But he's shown, via a pretty stellar body of work nearly a decade long, that he's one of the best in the game.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thome's my homey

That. Was. Phenomenal.

Unbelievable stuff from a zany ballgame tonight at Target Field.

It ended with a Jim Thome walk-off bomb, an absolute moonshot deep into the right-field seats. Gone the second it left the bat, a no-doubter, a blast into the night. Throw 'em all out there because each and every superlative applies.

Thome's theatrics came in the bottom of the 10th inning with the Twins trailing 6-5. Matt Capps blew a save in the top of the ninth and Jon Rauch struggled in the 10th. That left the home team down a run in the first game of this pivotal three-game set. But Thome, who continues to defy everything we know and think about 40-year-old athletes (hey didn't another 40-year-old Minnesota athlete make headlines today?), again came through in the clutch.

With Delmon Young at first base, Thome destroyed an 0-1 offering. I was up off my couch nano-seconds after the pitch made contact with Thome's lumber. Stellar, and one of those victories that just might shake Chicago's collective psyche. The White Sox have been reeling and the Twins are red-hot — they're now 19 games over .500 and lead the Central by four games.

Best win in the abbreviated history of Target Field?

You know what? Forget that other old guy who jetted into Minneapolis this afternoon. It's still baseball season, and Brett Favre's ego can get stroked another day. (By the way, what a contrast in personalities between Thome and Favre.) There's nothing better than a pennant push, and the Twins seem awfully inclined to do just that over the next two months.

Wait, strike that. Knock on wood. One game at a time. Etc., etc.

More good news: Liriano and Pavano go for the Twins Wednesday and Thursday.

Should be fun.

***

Quick admission: I love Brett Favre. I don't care how much he waffles, how foolish he looks with these weekly retirements. I love the way he plays, his grit, his devil-may-care mentality under center. He just ... has fun. There's baggage. We know that. He loves drama. He loves the spotlight. I'll take it, though.

Just as long as Favre rekindles some of that 2009 magic and leads the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

Can you just do me a solid, Brett?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jon Rauch's height more impressive than his pitching

Jon Rauch, you're dead to me.

Rauch is starting to implode. Since about the All-Star break, he hasn't been the same pitcher that was so effective in the first half. He's still tall and stuff — so he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Rauch replaced Kevin Slowey, who was gunning for a no-hitter, to start the eighth.

Slowey's flirtation with a no-no didn't follow the blueprint for pitching dominance. I think he walked three and beaned one, plus the Twins were sloppy in the field. Still, he again worked fast (though it was obvious early in the game the Athletics were trying to upset his rhythm by taking forever between pitches) and made big pitches in big situations.

For a guy with impeccable command, a little bit of wildness isn't always a bad thing. If nothing else, it makes the hitters just a little more uncomfortable in the box.

Rauch has given way to Jesse Crain, who just worked nicely out of a jam with the tying run at the dish.

The Twins, leading the White Sox by two games in the Central, are ahead 4-2. Chicago, meanwhile, is in front of the Tigers 7-6 in the seventh inning. Should the Twins hold on to win today, they'd be 18 games over .500 — stellar — with the Sox coming to town for another showdown.

Oh, and how about Sage Rosenfels? Heck of a night for the Vikings' ninth-string QB last night. Rosenfels was something like 23 for 34 for 300-plus yards and a TD or two. Good showcase effort for when the Vikes trade him next week.

Gardy says "no" to Slowey's no-hit bid

Well that's pretty anti-climatic.

Kevin Slowey won't get a chance to finish his no-hit bid. He had one going through seven innings, but with 105 pitches and the fact that Slowey missed his last start because of elbow soreness, Gardy pulled him.

Pitch counts kind of suck.

Good decision or bad decision by Gardy?

Let's see if the bullpen can finish off a team no-hitter.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sleep, let's get reacquainted

Last night I joked that I was bracing for 19 minutes of sleep.

Turns out, I wasn't that far off. The final tally was a robust 52 minutes of sleep (with a plus/minus of six). I woke up at 1:07 a.m. and was in the office shortly after 4. By the way, it was ridiculously awesome watching the city come to life from my office window. There were still some late-night stragglers roaming around (including a skunk by the Old Central High School, which remains stunning to me even though I walk by it twice a day), but for the most part, downtown was quiet.

Slowly, early risers started invading the sidewalks, the sun appeared and embarked on its methodical ascent, light replaced dark, empty streets gave way to hustle and bustle.

Me? I did my best to make sure Folgers turns a profit this quarter.

Still haven't found the bat, which contributed to last night's lightning-quick sleep. I'm ready to move on. Maybe it's gone, maybe it's hiding, maybe it's turning tricks with other bats. As much as the bat thwarted my sleep, the temperature in my room played a much larger role. It was approximately 173 degrees in my room last night. No air gets in, and my room is on the second floor of a building that was built in 1912. To channel my inner Captain Obvious, the vents and air flow aren't exactly modern.

All of it overwhelmed the single fan in my room. It's a dynamite fan, but still, it's just a fan. I had to flip my pillows a few times because it didn't take long for one side to get soaked with sweat.

I'm hoping for better luck tonight. I've been awake for 22 hours. In those 22 hours, I worked for 10, mowed a lawn and ran 13 miles. It's been a long day. I can't see so well.

But, positive news out of Chicago: Ozzie Guillen looks like a semi just ran over his kitten. Twins win (6-1)! Once again, they're alone in first place. Weird ballgame for Francisco Liriano, who morphed into a magician multiple times while dancing out of precarious situations. He loaded the bases in the fifth with nobody out and proceeded to induce a weak comebacker and two strikeouts on absolutely nasty sliders. The last punchout of that inning, courtesy of Carlos Quentin, was a marvelous display of Liriano's maturation.

Ahead 0-2 in the count, he unleashed a 96-MPH fastball that was high and outside. It was a setup pitch — nothing more, nothing less. And sure enough, Liriano fanned Quentin on a nasty, bouncing slider to preserve the Twins' 3-1 advantage.

A year ago, Liriano doesn't utilize a setup pitch. He was a thrower in 2009, not a pitcher. Tonight, though, he orchestrated a textbook pitch sequence to retire Quentin. Really, Liriano has always been more of a thrower. His stuff was always too overpowering to give a damn. Now he's mixing wits and a repertoire that is still off the charts — not quite what it was in 2006, but still one that has the ability to make a lot of big-league hitters look foolish.

The Twins are 15 games over .500 as they head back to Target Field to take on Oakland.

Couple random tidbits.

In the aforementioned failure to acquire sleep last night, I spent some quality time Googling stuff. Just stuff. The information I stumbled upon for Duluth was pretty fascinating. I'm not gonna recite it all here, but suffice to say the Wikipedia page for the "Air Conditioned City" has itself a repeat customer. That's where I found that Duluth is the second-largest city in Minnesota (in terms of land, not population).

The largest? Hibbing. Hibbing!

I know two things about Hibbing — it has a Lowe's and Hibbing Community College is renowned for its law enforcement training. Oh, and the high school's mascot is the Bluejackets (I think). One more thing! I once caught four consecutive passes, including a touchdown, from T-Spoon during a two-minute drill just before halftime of a road playoff game in Hibbing. That was in 1998. I remember it like it was 12 years ago.

(Side note: I still got reamed on at halftime ... something about not going out of bounds right away on one of the catches, which is unpossible considering that's pretty much all I did in high school — caught the ball and broke for the sidelines to avoid being tackled.)

Another tidbit I found was that Duluth once boasted the most millionaires per capita of any city in the nation. That was in 2007. Just kidding, it was closer to 1907. Still pretty neat.

Perhaps the craziest number I found? Ten. As in Duluth once featured 10 thriving newspapers, including one that was written completely in Finnish (that's a very specific target audience).

Speaking of newspapers, I'm sick of them. The news is so bleak these days. It's not the newspapers' fault. It's just the time we live in. And if it's not bleak news, it's news about stupid people, who appear to be waging an aggressive, multi-faceted coup to take over the world.

I'm also sick of stupid people who want to take over the world. But that was probably implied.

I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Where are you, bat?

This bat has turned into my Everest.

I have spent the past 80 minutes wearing a winter hat and winter gloves, while tip-toeing through my house with a tennis racket in hand.

I got home about 8, and it took me a good 15 minutes before I deemed the house safe to enter. Before I did that, though, I kept reaching my hand into the kitchen and flickering the lights, and then I'd slam the door shut hoping to scare the bat out of hiding.

No luck.

I walked around outside for a while, peering in various windows. Did I look a little creepy? No question about it. Would a neighbor have been justified in calling the cops? Absolutely. Did I care? Not even a little bit.

Bottom line: I can't see the damn thing. I have no effin' idea where it could possibly be. And, absent-mindedly, I left my two bedroom doors open upstairs when I left for work this morning (a harrowing escape I'm actively shopping to Hollywood). You always shut doors when there's a bat in the house so you have a smaller area to search. I know that, too. This ain't my first rodeo.

After I built up the courage to go upstairs, I quickly slammed the door to the spare bedroom and jammed a towel in the two-inch gap at the base of the door. The bathroom door was shut, so, really, the only room upstairs where the bat could be was mine. Nice work, soldier. How I forgot to shut my own door I have no clue. I'm fully prepared to get 19 minutes of sleep tonight.

When I got to my room, I stood in the doorway and launched folded socks, a lock, a mini sculpture of Mount Rushmore and a wooden peg at the curtains covering my window.

In my experience, bats always hang out by curtains. Usually behind them or on the rod. Again, not my first rodeo.

Nothing. No bat. Where are you?

At this point in the night — I'm taking a short break — I feel pretty good. It's not upstairs. If it is, it's in the spare bedroom and that room has been secured. I won't have to open that door until I move in two weeks. Hopefully by then I will have forgotten about the bat (impossible) or, if it is in there, it will have suffocated. Can bats suffocate? Probably.

If it's downstairs, well I don't know where it is. There are two tiles missing from my kitchen ceiling, so I placed a tote cover up there to try to seal it off. I really improvised when it came to the doorway (there's no door ... just an open doorway) that leads to my basement (likely destination). Wanting to block off that entry way, I tacked a sheet firmly into the frame of the doorway. I don't really know how strong bats are, but hopefully that sheet will act as a serious deterrent.

Alright, back to business. One more sweep of my bedroom, then I'm taking a tub and going to bed. I've literally sweated harder tonight than I have on many runs. My heart nearly bounced out of my chest a few times while blindly inching around various corners.

I texted The Chuckster to tell him I'm a huge pansy. After he responded with agreement, he made the point that I should tell my landlord I'm only paying half this month's rent, on account of an unwanted roommate.

One that flies.

This is not a cave

I woke up this morning at 5:30. Groggy, I ambled downstairs to start the coffee. When I got to the bottom step, something came swooping in front of me, from the kitchen to the living room.

Bat.

I was no longer groggy — or sleepy. My spin move and subsequent sprint upstairs was reminiscent of 1996 Barry Sanders. There are 11 steps on that staircase and I'd guess I touched three of them. Bravely — you're damn right I said "bravely" — I gathered my clothes and hurried across the hallway to the bathroom where I plotted my strategy for escaping the house.

This is what it came down to: Once dressed, I would run downstairs, through the kitchen and into the back porch. There, I would reassess the situation by peering through the window into the kitchen, to determine the bat's location.

It worked. I credit a well-conceived plan and excellent execution.

Looking through the window, I saw the kitchen was safe, allowing me to retrieve my laptop, hot pockets and chicken salad. Finally ready to leave, I walked backwards — easier to track my surroundings.

I hate bats. It's been a while since I've had to deal with one. Nonetheless, I hate bats.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twins club Sox, alone in first

The Twins are alone in first place.

That sounds pretty nice, especially after a putrid June riddled with frustration.

The Twins doubled up the White Sox 12-6 tonight in Chicago for their third straight win. Every time I looked up, it seemed, the Twins were clubbing another homer.

They can pull two games in front with a victory Wednesday.

On a different subject, I'm sick of NFL players holding out for larger contracts. Obviously, the big one is Darrelle Revis, who looks more and more unlikely to play for the Jets this season (I actually take that back — Revis will play, but not before a prolonged holdout that ends just as the preseason winds down). I understand guys wanting to get paid accordingly, and Revis was the best defensive player in the league last year.

At his current salary, he'd be underpaid. But there's more to the story. Take a guy like the Vikings' Sidney Rice, for example. He's making noise about wanting a new contract after his potent 2009 campaign. Like Revis, he'd probably qualify as underpaid. But during Rice's first couple seasons, when he was oft-injured and unproductive, he was overpaid.

So if players can hold out demanding more money because they're coming off a huge season, teams should conversely be able to lock out shitty underperformers and force them to take a paycut. Right? Makes sense, I think.

Rice, then, would have had to forfeit some of his cash from earlier in his career when he was nothing more than an extra body on the field. That same pride that drives these guys to demand fair market value seemingly never surfaces when the tables are turned and they're underachieving and basically stealing from an organization.

Funny, that.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Twins back in first

The Twins are in first place (technically, it's a tie for first)!

And they're headed for the season's first truly big series, a three-gamer in Chicago.

Scott Baker goes against Freddy Garcia in Tuesday's opener.

The Twins have typically owned these late-season showdowns with the White Sox, but this Chicago team just feels a little different, perhaps a little more resilient. We'll see starting tomorrow. Should be fun.

Depression-era photos in color

These are ridiculously cool. They are Depression-era photos that are in color — a rarity. It's still next to impossible to fathom that period of time in anything other than black and white, which is one reason finding this collection was so surreal.

Enjoy.

http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Awesome photos from Saturday's storm

Check out this Duluth News Tribune photo gallery from Saturday's epic storm. Western Duluth, and especially Morgan Park, were swamped — 4.5 inches fell from 10 p.m. to midnight.

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/photogallery/id/1754/

It was amazing. I've probably seen it rain that hard before, but not for that long. It rained from 6 until just after midnight. If we got 4.5 inches in a two-hour span, I'd say we got probably 7 inches total. Intense.

Quick observation on the two cars submerged in water from the gallery: Um, why drive into that? In the DNT article, one of the drivers refused to give his name and didn't want to discuss what happened. Basically, what he was getting at, then, was that we has hammered.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Say it ain't so, Torii

When did Torii Hunter start playing right field?

There was Hunter last night, during an Angels highlight on Sportscenter, playing a ball in the right-field corner. At first, I thought it was some exotic shift for a dead-pull hitter. But no, Hunter is now the Angels' everyday right fielder.

That's a big deal.

Hunter is 35, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise. And yet ... it does. He's one of those guys who still looks and acts like he's 29. Always goofing, a jovial teammate, loves to play the game, relentless — all the characteristics of a star still going strong.

Age and all those miles, though, are catching up with Torii Hunter.

From ESPN.com:

• "It's all about winning," Hunter said. "Believe me, I can still play center field. Believe me, I can still play center with any youngster. But I'm doing this because it will make our team better."

• "What people don't realize is I had surgery in the offseason [for a sports hernia], and it still bothers me," Hunter said. "My legs are more tired than they've ever been. This is the most I've run in my career, I haven't run this much since I was a kid. I have a 100,000-mile warranty on my legs, and the warranty is up. I had to fix a flat tire to keep the car running."

Center fielders moving to right is a common occurrence. There's not as much real estate to cover at one of the corner outfield spots. Kirby Puckett made a similar move back in the day. But still, it's a sure-fire sign that Hunter is slowing down. He doesn't have the giddy-up — at least not for 162 games a season — that made him one of the best defensive outfielders of his era.

And, frankly, that sucks. I'd claim Torii as one of my top three favorite players of all time. Off the top of my head, I can't name the other two, but, without a doubt, Torii is in the top three. He was a baseball player with a football player's mentality, as competitive a guy as the Twins have ever had.

As a die-hard fan, you frequently wonder whether the players care as much as you do. Some don't. With Hunter, that thought never even entered the equation. He wants to win as much as any athlete — save for perhaps Michael Jordan — I've ever followed. And if his teammates weren't on board, they were destined to go through hell. Justin Morneau, for example, was once on the wrong end of a Torii Hunter punch simply because Hunter felt like Morneau was merely going through the motions, rather than laying it all on the line.

So his switch to right field is a little deflating. Selfishly, I don't want to see Torii Hunter play right field. I want him to stay in center, though I realize it makes more sense for the Angels to plug in a younger guy with — this is tough to admit — more range. The move makes Anaheim better, and it's better for Hunter in the long run.

I still don't like it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best catch ever?

Most ridiculous baseball catch ever.

Just ... wow.

http://www.straitpinkie.com/sports/crazy-spiderman-catch-by-japanese-baseball-player/

Frost? In August? Yes, yes we can!

Tuesday, it was close to 90 degrees in Duluth with brutal humidity.

Today, a headline on the Duluth News Tribune's website tells a different story:

"Patchy frost possible tonight in parts of the region"

It's Aug. 5! Fall is roughly 47 days away! Forty-eight hours ago, it was 90! My birthday is in 21 days! The birthday thing, that doesn't really have anything to do with the weather. Though I will say this: Growing up, I detested my birthday because it meant school was a week away. Horrible planning on my parents' part. Which leads me to believe I was probably a mistake.

It's fine.

The brief DNT write-up went on to say, "The Iron Range, areas along the Canadian border and interior sections of Lake and Cook counties may see areas of frost after midnight as temperatures are forecast to fall into the 30s in some locations.

Friday should be a sunny day across the region, with highs in the 70s."

I really wish I was a meteorologist. I'm fascinated by weather. Sometimes I watch the Weather Channel and see if I can guess what the forecasters will say next. And I practice saying "doppler radar" while pointing at a pretend map on my living room wall.

I do neither of those things.

But I do enjoy crazy weather patterns.

Almost as much as I enjoy watching Ron Mahay serve up a game-tying grand slam to Jason Bartlett to cap a six-run Rays rally and tie the Twins at 6 in the bottom of the eighth inning. What a bizarre game this afternoon, which the Twins eventually won thanks to an assist from a catwalk at Tropicana Field.

Kevin Slowey and a balanced offense pushed the Twins to a 6-0 lead entering the bottom of the eighth, when all hell broke loose. Slowey ran out of gas like a 1970 Yugo, and the Rays started bunching baserunners together. Trailing 6-2 and with the bases jacked, Tampa Bay sent Bartlett to the dish as a pinch-hitter.

The former Twin lopped a weak Mahay offering just over the left-field wall to knot the game at six apiece. I don't know where Ron Mahay came from. He's been on the club all season, but I'm not sure how. He looks like he's 56 and took a wrong turn while trying to get to an old-timers bar-league softball affair. He's shady.

In the top of the ninth, the Twins, who had every reason to wilt after the devastating rally, somehow kept plugging along. Jason Repko led off with a double and scored when Jason Kubel launched a sky-high popup that hit a catwalk hanging over the infield. The ball fell to the ground, Repko scored, and Joe Mauer came across on Michael Cuddyer's single to left field to make it 8-6.

Matt Capps, who was brilliant for 1 1/3 innings, shut the door in the home half of the ninth to give the Twins a split on the road against one of the best outfits in baseball. Not a bad series, especially considering the Twins dropped the first two games.

Speaking of bar-league softball (I think I spoke of bar-league softball), I'll be playing a little during this weekend's Beerhunters tournament at Wade and Wheeler. I initially planned to enjoy a nice, relaxing weekend. That's probably not gonna happen. Not with bean bags and the West Duluth street dance Friday night, the weekend softball tournament and a pig roast Saturday night.

I should find my spikes and glove at some point tomorrow. And then maybe some calisthenics to get ready for the first game Saturday morning. Maybe some BP, too. We'll see if I have time.

By the way, it's a shame Slowey didn't get the win today. His final line — four earned runs in 7 1/3 innings — does little to explain how effective he was. And he was working fast. I just watched part of the replay and he was on a mission. He'd get the ball back from Drew Butera and be ready to go again.

I'm watching Kubel's post-game interview on FSN right now. It's awkward. I love Jason Kubel, but his career after baseball isn't going to involve a lot of public speaking.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Favre sets world record for shortest retirement

So now Brett Favre might not retire. He apparently intends to play, provided his ankle comes around.

It's good news. Favre could have made that announcement Tuesday, but it's still good news.

I don't know what to think. I have a hard time believing Favre sent teammates text messages Monday saying "this is it," only to proclaim the exact opposite 24 hours later. I know the guy loves to stir up a little drama, but that doesn't even seem plausible. Unless, of course, Favre suddenly started drinking again. In which case, I say "what the hell took him so long?"

After today's statement that Favre is committed to playing if his ankle comes around, I have little doubt he'll be flinging passes against the Saints in early September.

This whole situation calls to mind the validity of today's working media. With 24/7 coverage, there's a no-holds-barred race to get "the story." Not to get the correct story — any story will do. Reporters throw shit against the wall and see what sticks. Only they're doing it in very public forums — blogs, newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, etc. — and paying little attention to those pesky facts.

The same deal played out with conference realignment a couple months ago. Every conceivable shakeup was reported as gospel, only to be refuted by a new, sexier — though still woefully inaccurate — alignment plan. The Big 12 was breaking up, it was staying together, half the teams were joining the Big Ten, all of 'em were headed to the Pac 10, and so on. That cycle — the hyper-active 24/7 news cycle — kept spinning crazy tales of schools jumping all over the place.

In the end, Colorado and Utah went to the Pac 10 and Nebraska joined the Big Ten. Still pretty big news, but nowhere near as big as what was being reported — again, not speculated, but reported. It was a stunning portrayal of today's media landscape. Everybody rushed to get their byline on the latest gossip, and it just kept snowballing. For a week that went on. The journalists on the front line were nothing more than puppets.

Texas, for example, kept feeding its media horde delicious little scraps. Texas, it turns out, had no intention of bolting for the Pac 10, but by stirring the pot and threatening to do so, and making it seem almost inevitable that they'd be ditching the Big 12, Texas got itself a sweetheart deal to do what it likely had planned to do all along — nothing. The Longhorns' conference mates threw millions at UT to stay put.

In the end, it became painfully obvious that Texas played the media like a banjo. School officials made it seem like they were ready to leave. The writers got the story out there, and pretty soon, money was being thrown at Texas to stay.

So there's a part of me that feels like a similar scenario is playing out with this Favre thing. Everybody and their grandma has a new detail, a new theory, a new source. Thus, who do you believe? Any of 'em? It's hard to determine who's done his or her homework and who's merely throwing stuff at the wall.

Again, it's get the story, get it fast ... and then double-check the facts. It should be the other way around. It doesn't always work that way.

Oh, hey, the Twins just won. Actually it was like 10 minutes ago that they won, but I got all worked up and started rambling about Texas and stuff — further proof that nothing good ever comes from Texas.

Anyways, the Twins won behind eight spectacular innings from Scott Baker. The righty allowed just three hits and was in line for a well-deserved win until Matt Capps coughed up a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Still, the Twins persevered (it's nice to use those two words together) and eked out a 2-1 triumph over the red-hot Rays. Big ballgame tomorrow in which the Twins could earn a road split against one of the best clubs in baseball.

Holy hell it's already August 5. When did that happen? How did that happen? Seems like just yesterday I was going camping for Memorial Day. It obviously wasn't yesterday because Memorial Day almost always falls in May, but it feels like it was. It will be snowing in a month. Well, maybe not a month, but close. That sucks.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Favre retires. Announcement that he's un-retiring expected soon

Brett Favre is apparently retiring.

Like most of America, I'm skeptical. We've been down this road before.

Every year since 2002, Favre has considered retiring (I just stole that line from ESPN). This would be his third retirement. If he does, in fact, walk away. Favre's pretty damn good at a lot of things, but retiring? Not so much.

I don't know what to think. Part of me thinks it's a selfish move for a guy that had the Vikings convinced he'd be back for the 2010 campaign. The Vikes, consequently, stood pat at quarterback. They were confident Favre would be starting against the Saints in Week 1. So for him to back out a month before the season commences, well that's a raw deal.

But is he actually, for real, no-doubt-about-it retiring? Nobody, not a soul, can make that statement. As it's been with Favre for much of the past decade, we'll simply have to wait and see where he's at when the season kicks off.

I'm 50-50. I think he desperately wants to play and take another crack at a Super Bowl triumph. I think he's motivated to continue to stick it to the Packers. I think he relishes the cheers and adoring fans. On the other hand, he's got way too much pride to play if his body's falling apart and won't allow him to do the things he's accustomed to doing.

I really have no idea. My fingers are crossed, though. I've seen enough of Tarvaris Jackson to know the Vikings aren't wrapping their arms around the Vince Lombardi Trophy next February if Jackson is the starting slinger.

Switching gears, I'm back to being upset with the Twins. Really, this has been an on-again, off-again relationship all summer. The Twins don't know about the relationship, but it's there. And it's complicated. Two weeks ago, they were dead to me. We were broken up. I was at the stage where I burn all the things that reminded me of the Twins.

Sunday, I was waxing poetic about guys like Brian Duensing and Danny Valencia, singing the praises of Delmon Young and Jason Kubel. Today, after the Twins dropped their second straight to the Rays, I'd classify our relationship as "on a break." We're close to "seeing other people," but not quite there yet.

I'd really just like for them to beat a quality oppononet. You know, to prove it's possible.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Winning streak reaches eight games

Did everybody have a grand weekend?

The Twins sure did, as they stretched their winning streak to eight games. They have outscored opponents 66-16 during the season-saving surge. Francisco Liriano was dynamite this afternoon, a day after Kevin Slowey tossed his best game of the season.

The Twins are now 13 games above .500 (59-46).

It's on to Tampa Bay on Monday for a four-game series against the Rays. That's a biggie. The Twins have feasted on sub-par competition the past week and a half, so four road games against one of the best clubs in the league is a big test. It should tell us whether the recent winning streak was a mirage or a harbinger of things to come.

My guess: a series split, which wouldn't be a bad thing.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Twins "cap" their bullpen with all-star closer

The Twins acquired Matt Capps, the all-star closer, Thursday from the Nationals. They had to part with Wilson Ramos, their young catching phenom and the organization's No. 2 prospect, to get Capps, who sports a 2.47 ERA to go along with 26 saves (in 30 tries).

The deal didn't make much sense to me at first. Jon Rauch, the previous closer, has struggled a little in July, but still had filled in admirably for the injured Joe Nathan. And Ramos is a huge chip to give up, especially for a closer, which aren't that difficult to come by. Seems like a steep price. And Ramos could have been used as a bargaining chip for a bigger prize somewhere down the road.

But the more I thought about it, the more the deal made sense. The Twins Achilles' Heel is their starting rotation. Adding another quality arm to the bullpen allows them to shorten games and not ask as much from their starters. Now, guys like Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey won't have to go seven or eight innings. Instead, Gardy can mix and match with a stout group of relievers that includes Jesse Crain (lights-out the past two months), Rauch (did a great job as the setup guy a year ago), Matt Guerrier (as dependable as they come), Jose Mijares (can be unhittable when he's going good), Ron Mahay (he's a lefty) and Nick Blackburn (joke withheld).

That's a huge asset for a team, especially in the postseason when bullpens become even more important.

Also, Capps should be on the roster again in 2011. That will be a ridiculous bullpen, should Nathan regain his previous form when he returns from Tommy John Surgery.

I'm still not one hundred percent sold on the Capps deal, but I'm talking myself into it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tall Ship Festival's name isn't lying

This was going on outside my window at the office this afternoon.



Duluth is hosting the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge®. I was going to try to summarize what it's all about, but this paragraph from http://www.visitduluth.com/tall-ships/ does a much better job (I'm pretty sure, had I tried to summarize it, you'd be sleeping, or dead, right now):

"Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on the shores of the world’s greatest lake. It’s a rare chance to catch a glimpse, step aboard, and even set sail on some of the grandest ships of yore. If you'd like to see eight magnificent vessels that harken back to the early days of maritime, set your sails for Duluth July 28-August 3, 2010. Featuring a fleet of international and domestic vessels racing to six cities in the U.S. and Canada, this is Lake Superior’s only port of call for the GREAT LAKES UNITED TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® 2010."

Today was the Grand Parade of Sail. I toss the lingo out there like I have any effin' idea what it means — I don't. From my office window, I watched these amazing ships sail through the harbor, under the lift bridge and into the port. The harbor, teeming with smaller sail and speed boats, looked like an ant hill.

I actually brought binoculars to work (don't judge me). I'm not a big ship aficionado by any means, but when that spectacle is unfolding literally six blocks away, you watch. The craziest image, at least from my office window, was when one of the mammoth vessels — I'm pretty sure it was the Bounty — inched close to the bridge. From my vantage point, which would have skewed the height a bit, the ship looked like it was taller than the Dewitt-Seitz building (if you're not from Duluth, that means nothing to you).

The ship's mast barely cleared the bottom of the lift bridge.

Go here for more incredible photos: http://www.startribune.com/galleries/99592419.html?elr=KArks:DCiUHc3E7_V_nDaycUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aULPQL7PQLanchO7DiUr

That gallery was on the Star Tribune's website.

Anyway, all this ship activity got me thinking: Why am I not down there? Obviously I was working, but the festival continues through Aug. 3. I'm pretty sure I won't get any closer to Bayfront than my office. I might have ventured down there tonight, but I had lawns to mow after work. And tomorrow wouldn't be a bad idea, but I have more lawns to mow before heading out of town. Early next week? Work, column writing, office time for DAYBA, probably some lawns to mow and sleep.

What's the saying — if you win the rat race, you're still a rat. That's how I feel. It's not like I have some super-important job that I have to be on call 24/7 for, but I'm a pretty busy dude. As are most of my friends and family.

My feeling is that most people — definitely not all, but most — are simply way too busy. Especially in Duluth, and especially in the summer. We get three or four months of truly nice weather. The rest of the time, it's a crapshoot. So we pack as much as we possibly can into those three or four months. Literally, from the beginning of May through the end of September, I'd guess there's three weekends I didn't or don't have plans for.

And my friends and family are the same way. There's ballgames to go to, camping to do, golf scrambles to compete in, bachelor parties, concerts, Twins games, races, more camping, four-wheeling, softball, etc. In between, we're working like slaves so we can enjoy it all.

I'm not suggesting this is a phenomenon resigned solely to Duluth. It's not. But I think it's more prevalent in places like Duluth, simply because of the weather.

And the result is that when a really cool event comes to town, if it hasn't been on our schedule for the past six months, we're not on board. We can't be. It would take too much reshuffling.

And also, this: We're too cynical. The tall ships what? What the hell's that? What do I want to see a tall ship for? That's stupid. Can you imagine how many people will be there? Where would we park? Where would we sit?

Those questions abound. I do it myself, when the reality is that trying something new often leads to a pretty remarkable experience. Well, unless that "something new" is spam. Then it still sucks. But that's missing the point.

Ah, the point. There's probably one wrapped up in all those words somewhere. But as I was cutting grass today and dripping with sweat, I had a lot of time to think. These are the thoughts I had. I tried to make sense of them all, tried to form some coherent, provocative thought. I probably failed. I'm fine with that, by the way.

I guess what I'm getting at is this:

Chuck Norris does not wear a condom. Because there is no such thing as protection from Chuck Norris.

Pretty deep, after all.

* By the way, that photo I pirated (you see what I did there — while writing about old pirate-looking ships, I used the word "pirated" ... snap!) at the top of this post was taken from somewhere/thing called the Mail Online. Might be a London-based paper, which means it's probably an AP photo. Which means it probably shouldn't be on my blog. But I'm crazy. Not as crazy as Chuck Norris, though — did you know he's the reason Waldo has been hiding all these years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm pretty sure the Royals kind of suck

Why do the smallest dogs bark the loudest?

There is a dog next door, no taller than a beer can, that is yelping at two labs walking down the alley. The labs, both probably in the 75-pound range, could not be any less impressed. Really, you're barking at me? You see me, right?

Little dogs always bark too loud, and too frequently. It's like they're trying to over-compensate for something (not little paws). I actually like little dogs. I like dogs of all sizes. Just seems like the little ones are always the loudest.

Let's move on.

The Twins completed a three-game sweep of the Royals this afternoon. Delmon Young got the fiesta going with an early three-run homer that set the tone, and Brian Duensing was effective through six innings as the Twins moved 10 games above .500 for the first time in close to two months.

I really have no idea what's gotten into Young. His first two seasons in Minnesota, he was average. He had stretches of brilliance, but more often than not, he was an average baseball player. Now? Now he's one of the best hitters in the game.

Take a look at these numbers from twinsbaseball.com:

"Young has now hit safely in 13 of his last 15 games and is hitting .439 in July with six homers and 28 RBIs. His team-high RBI total is now at 79 on the season — 63 of those RBIs have come since May 21."

Absurd stats for a guy that was labeled a bust as recently as a year ago.

I was able to listen to the game on the radio at work today. A co-worker has a big alarm clock at her desk and I stole it and plugged my head phones into it (I told people it was my new iPod). I forgot how good John Gordon, the Twins' radio guy, is. He's getting up there a bit, and might not be as smooth or as "on top of things" as he once was, but he's still a treasure on the air.

After Young's mammoth three-run shot, Gordon bellowed "And the Delmon Young tour continues." Just a great voice, and one that's become synonymous with Twins baseball.

The Twinkies have now won 10 of 13 heading into Thursday's off day. Man, could that thing not come at a worse time. This time of the season, a day off is typically a blessing, but not for a club cruising along at a torrid offensive pace. You want to keep playing, keep riding the momentum. A break can put the skids on that momentum faster than a Nick Blackburn start.

The Mariners come to Target Field for a three-game set starting Friday. Then, the Twins are off to Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Chicago. That's a tough road trip, which makes the mini-homestand that much more significant.

Me? I'm heading to Grand Rapids for a family camping trip this weekend. I'm pretty sure this camping trip will be different than last weekend's. Oddly, just as I start talking about camping, mosquitoes start feasting on me. I seriously can't feel my legs.

That's stupid. I can feel my legs. But I'm still going inside and going to bed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twins erupt yet again

My buddy, The Chuckster, had a theory about the Twins' recent offensive uprising.

He suggested maybe they all got on the same steroid cycle. It would have been funnier in like 2004, but still a quality joke.

The Twins could probably just trade Jon Rauch. There's really no need for him to be on the roster. He's tall and stuff, but aside from that, he's just ... there. Like the old mustard in your fridge that gets used once a month.

Hey, Jon Rauch is pitching! Speak of the devil. Does Ron Gardenhire read this blog? He probably does, let's be honest, but mid-game?

Danny Valencia had another four-hit night this evening. Call me crazy, but he seems like a better hitter than Nick Punto. Valencia now has 14 hits over his past four games. That's ridiculous. I think I did that once in bar league softball, but still. It's like comparing apples to apple pie. That's not the saying.

Rauch just started a sweet 1-6-3 double play. Well played, big fella.

The Twins have won four in a row and nine of 12. They're creeping. It's the second half, so the timing is about right. It was just last week that I was handing out LVP awards. And now look at TwinkieTown. Singing a different tune.

I made corn on the cob tonight and it turned out fantastic. But then, it's kind of hard to screw up corn on the cob. I called my dad to ask how one would go about cooking such an exotic meal. I thought it was this huge, involved process. Like something where I should have an apron that says "kiss the cook" on. Turns out, you boil water and put the corn in there for 10 minutes.

That's almost easier than cooking Hot Pockets. I will probably stop by the farmer's market tomorrow and buy 664 ears of corn. Are they called ears? If not, they should be.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Twins quietly turning it around

Baseball is a weird game.

Throughout June, the Twins couldn't pitch. When they pitched well — a rarity — their offense disappeared. Since the All-Star break, though, the Twins have put both facets together. Their starters are on a roll (they're like butter ... get it, butter goes on a roll?) and the offense has been the best in the majors.

They are currently leading the Royals 19-0. Joe Mauer ended the night with five hits and seven RBIs. Danny Valencia is a triple shy of the cycle. Delmon Young owns another big performance. And Francisco Liriano sparkled through seven scoreless innings.

Just like that, the Twins have won eight of 11 — provided they can hold onto this 19-run, ninth-inning lead. I think they'll be OK.

The sport's nuances, the inevitable ups and downs, are unpredictable. Peaks and valleys happen over a six-month, 162-game season. You never know when a red-hot team will fall into a funk or a previously struggling club will catch fire.

It's part of what makes the game so beautiful.

On a lighter note, I made it back from Country Jam. I won't yet say I survived Country Jam because my body still feels like a piece of soggy Spam. But I made it back. I'm sure I'll post a pic or two, but not now. I don't have that kind of energy, what with all that right-clicking.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm pretty tired, but it's a good tired

How ready am I for Country Jam?

I woke up at 3:50 this morning. Made some coffee, read the paper, stopped and picked up doughnuts on the way to work.

I'm like 65 years old all of a sudden.

Also, I'm tired. Which is a problem, considering KC has informed me that I'm the co-captain for our drive to Eau Claire this evening. We're hauling his camper. It's the size of a small city.

I haven't been the captain of anything since junior high football. We won the city Super Bowl that year, so obviously I have some experience in captaincy. That's probably why KC picked me. Well, that and the fact that I'll be the only other person in the vehicle. But still.

I should probably get a T-shirt made that has an "A" on the front, for "assistant captain." Just to clear up any confusion that may surface at the campground.

Quit thinking, start swinging

Joe Mauer is thinking too much. Need proof?

Mauer, mired in a slump, came to the dish Tuesday in the seventh inning with the scored tied 3-3 and runners on first and second with one out. That's where a stud like Mauer earns his paycheck. Instead, the Twins catcher bunted.

He laid one down.

The reigning AL MVP had no problem leaving the heavy lifting to Jason Kubel, who was, it turns out, in no mood for lifting of any kind.

Here is what Mauer told twinsbaseball.com:

"Probably the biggest thing is [third baseman Jhonny] Peralta playing back. It's just giving me a base hit. It got off the end of the bat a little bit and I didn't get it out there far enough, I didn't execute.

"You factor in all those things, it sounds like a pretty good idea I think. I'm sure a lot of people don't recognize that or realize that. There are a lot of things that go into it. I thought that was the best play at the time."

That's the issue — there shouldn't be "a lot of things that go into it." It was a relatively routine scenario: a base hit would have given the Twins the lead. It happens, though, players getting swept up in mind games when the swing goes on vacation. Rather than simply reacting to a pitch, they try to "think" their way on base.

It's a nasty thing and it gobbles up Little Leaguers and big leaguers alike. Just like that, you can't drive the ball. You're swinging at a butterfly. You try every conceivable solution — shorten the swing, move closer to/back from the plate, try a new stance, take a copious amount of BP.

In such instances, Mark Grace should be consulted for his version of the "slump-buster."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Joe Mauer endorses this 4-6-3 DP

Remember watching Joe Mauer hit a year ago? His at-bats always led to a little daydreaming. We pondered, romantically, the viability of a catcher flirting with .400. Into June, then July. Mauer was magic, turning a flick of his wrists into doubles and opposite-field homers.

Now, when he comes to the plate, I ponder something different. Namely, what's the record for 4-6-3 double plays in a single season?

Scott Baker trying to reclaim LVP award from Kevin Slowey

When Kevin Slowey wrestled the weekly LVP award away from Scott Baker last week, Baker apparently had one thought: I'm gettin' that shit back.

And he is. Baker could very well become the first two-time winner in the long and distinguised history of TwinkieTown's LVP award. There's a word for that: douchebag.

I initially was going to craft a plan to fix the Twins' starting rotation, but then I looked at what their minor league pitchers are doing. Ouch. They aren't doin' much. Some shmuck by the name of Mike McCardell is 0-10 with a 5.79 ERA. He's at Double A, on the fast track to retirement. Or the Mexican leagues.

I've always been pretty high on Anthony Swarzak. Which is apropos, considering Anthony Swarzak always seems pretty high. Wait, he's the dude who admitted to smoking some grass back in the day, right? If not, he should start. Like right now. And when he's baked and eating nacho cheese Doritos and watching The Big Lebowski, maybe he can make sense of his 6.24 ERA and 2-6 record.

Looking over the stats for the minor league pitchers, it's a big, heaping pile of mediocrity. Lots of ERAs in the 5s.

Maybe the Twins can trade Scott Baker for Dan Haren or Roy Oswalt. Straight up.

Some guy in the NHL signed a 17-year contract this afternoon. Ilya Kovalchuk is his name. He signed with the Devils, for roughly $100 million. The dude's 27 years old. I'm 28 and nobody is offering me a 16-year contract. And I'm in my prime. For bean bags, my prime for bean bags.

Seventeen years is a really long time to live in New Jersey.

What else happened today? Probably some other stuff, but I've had a pretty full day. This week's all about getting ready for Country Jam. In a related story, I spent $70 on Coors Light over the weekend. It's been in my kitchen since Saturday. Sitting peacefully in the corner, sweating under the humidity, waiting for ice so the mountains can regain their blue-ish hue.

I was gonna hold out and keep rambling, but the Twins are getting crushed and I'm tired. So I'm going to bed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Twins score four in the ninth to stun Sox

Another dynamite win for the Twinkies.

Down 6-3 entering the ninth, they scored four times to stun the White Sox and win their third straight. TwinkieTown made a rather bold prediction Friday that the Twins looked ready to pounce, ready to begin their ascent up the AL Central ladder.

TwinkieTown appears prophetic.

Also, I've had about enough of Nick Blackburn. Move him to the bullpen. Or Triple-A. Or Ghana. Just move him.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wait, it's over?

The Twins just won a 3-2 ballgame in a lightning-quick one hour, 52 minutes. That was amazing.

Great for the Twins, not so great when you build your night around watching the Twins. Now what to do?

Twins show some life

Prediction: The Twins are about to heat up.

I've been a gloomy Gus regarding the Twins (yes, you read that right — I used the words "gloomy Gus"), but Friday night they finally showed a spark in a 7-4 win over the White Sox. The collective attitude seemed to be, "Eff it, let's do this." It was only one victory, but I think I'm pretty decent at reading and interpreting body language. I'm probably horrible at it, but that's neither here nor there.

They just ... looked different. The past few weeks, big hits often were followed by looks of relief — insert monkey-off-the-back analogy here — whereas Friday they were followed by looks of determination, almost anger. Which leads me to believe they're about to unleash some pent-up frustration on upcoming opponents.

Having said all that, if the Twins go out and lose tonight, they are dead to me.

The Twins' win capped a nearly perfect Friday. I ran in the Park Point 5-Miler, one of the oldest road races in Minnesota.

And I won, too.

That's actually not true whatsoever. I didn't win. I wasn't close to winning. I think the winners crossed the finish line while I was still going through my pre-race stretching. Pricks.

Below is a picture of Lake Superior, taken from Park Point. The picture kind of sucks. I blame Blackberry. And was it awkward taking a picture of the beach, with younger ladies running around in bikinis? It was. Did I feel kind of creepy? I did.



ESPN.com currently has a story about the Yankees not attending this week's funeral for Bob Sheppard, the legendary PA man for the Yanks and New York Giants.

That's awkward.

"To be quite honest with you, I didn't even know his funeral was yesterday," Derek Jeter told ESPN.com on Friday. "Having said that, I don't necessarily think you have to go to a funeral to honor someone. I think a lot of players have honored him. It's the reason why I've recorded his voice throughout the years, and I'll continue to honor him every time I go to the plate for the rest of my career. But I was not aware of it and I don't know how many of the players were aware of it."

Jeter's right: You don't have to go to a funeral to honor someone.

But it doesn't hurt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Twins are back ... and they still kind of suck

Well, the Twins haven't missed a beat.

Kevin Slowey, especially, looks poised to maintain his putrid pitching — he threw three-plus innings tonight as the starting rotation continued its assault on the team's bullpen. And judging by tonight, Slowey and Joe Mauer are no longer BFFs. I don't think they talked the whole night. And considering Mauer made a half dozen trips to the mound as Slowey served up another night of BP, that's pretty impressive. They probably just had a bunch of staring contests.

I'd put my money on Mauer. He hasn't expressed an emotion since 1997, so keeping a straight face would be a breeze.

Justin Morneau is going on the disabled list. I'm pretty sure he's just sick of watching shitty pitching each night and wants to get away. He's probably fine. Good thinking, big guy, good thinking. I'm going on the disabled list, too. Morny and I are gonna hang out and stuff. Maybe cribbage, we haven't got it totally figured out yet.

Good to see Jim Thome come to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the tying run on base. Again, I'm a big fan of Thome, but I can never understand how a guy who's been playing baseball since Jesus C. was in his prime can take a called third strike to end the game. Just swing the bat, stick it out there, wave at the pitch. Do ... something!

If I had to sum up the 8-7 loss, I'd do it thusly: Alex Burnett balked in a run by falling off the mound and making what looked like a last-ditch effort to release the ball by simply dropping it on the ground.

I watched the bulk of tonight's ballgame, and it's been a while since I've seen such poor body language. Just a bad vibe from start to finish. From Slowey and Mauer playing the silent game, to Gardy repeatedly shaking his head in disgust ... heck, even Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven took a few veiled shots at the Twins. Good for them.

It will be interesting to see how they bounce back Friday. They had a nice lead tonight after a six-run second inning, and coming from ahead to lose is always deflating. Who knows. Who cares, right? The Twins are a notorious second-half squad, but if their pitching doesn't improve by about 627 percent, that reputation is bound to take a beating.

I just realized that tomorrow is Friday, which means it's almost time to dish out the weekly LVP award. I'm gonna get it out of the way tonight, because I got a full day tomorrow of early morning golf (free), mowing a lawn (reverse-free) and running in a five-mile race (not free).

So, without further ado, it's time to unveil the second winner of the LVP award. Because of the All-Star Game, it's been a short week. And I really wanted to give last week's award to Kevin Slowey. I'm not passing him up twice. Slowey is this week's winner. His reward? A two-hour pitching tutorial from Bob Wells.

Two words: Brian. Duensing.

By the way, I woke up today at 4 a.m. and watched 20 minutes of the British Open before going to work. The first time I saw the leaderboard, I saw "Daly, 7 under." Apparently, I slept until 1995. You know what? Daly deserves a celebratory beer.

Because I woke up at 4 a.m., I'm going to bed.

What is this, 1995?

John effin' Daly!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Brett Favre to Greg Lewis? Yes, yes we can!

ESPN is currently airing the ESPY Awards, and Brett Favre and Gregg Lewis just won for Best Play.

That play still gives me goosebumps. I can vividly remember how I felt watching it unfold. It was far from jubilation, but more a mix of being stunned, disbelieving, afraid to celebrate for fear of Lewis being ruled out of bounds (such is life when you grow up a Vikings fan). Honestly, I was in a state of shock, numb. For as long as I can remember, Favre's been my favorite football player. Didn't matter that he played for the Packers. The dude is real, he's genuine. He has a blast playing football and never relents.

Are there warts? Of course there are. But name a professional athlete without warts. And Favre's setbacks pale in comparison to those of others — the drug abusers, wife beaters and spoiled prima donnas. If his most glaring blemish is an inability to walk away, and a craving for the attention that accompanies his annual cat-and-mouse game ... well, it could be worse. Much worse.

So looking back on that jaw-dropping TD pass to Lewis was pretty cool. Only after the review, and when the official threw both arms in the air, did I grasp the magnitude of what had just transpired. It was surreal, a remarkable throw and an equally remarkable catch.

I think I originally was going to make fun of the ESPYs, and ESPN's ongoing love affair with ESPN. But I got nothing. And you gotta know when to call it a night. Take Nick Blackburn, for example. He takes the ball for a start, and 45 minutes later, he's calling it a night. Now that's a guy that knows when to exit stage left.

Quick story: I got to work this morning at 7, and the clouds were moving in. About 9:30, it looked like it was 9 p.m. — just a breathtaking concoction of heavy rain, persistent lightning, thunder and unfiltered darkness. All of it playing out over a fiesty Lake Superior, which was brimming with whitecaps.

I took a picture. I'm not posting the picture here, I'm just saying I took a picture.

One more thing: Al Davis, in commenting on George Steinbrenner's passing: "He's right up there with me at No. 1."

Hey, Al, reality called — it would like to meet you.

Also, happy 131st birthday to Al Davis.

Oh, and quick prediction for the British Open. Tiger wins in a walk (unless he pulls out, but let's be honest — Tiger's not a fan of pulling out).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jennie Finch: The answer is yes

One of the best things about the All-Star Game is the celebrity softball game on Monday night. Always funny, always filled with big names and even bigger personalities, as well as a few baseball icons from days gone by.

The softball game has become a staple of the Midsummer Classic. It always follows the Home Run Derby, where sluggers take more pitches than they do in a regular-season affair. Which leads to ridiculously long derbies, which leads to a late-starting softball game, which led to this text last night from my buddy, The Chuckster:

"How has ESPN managed to underestimate the duration of the HR Derby for 20 years in a row? The on-screen guide says softball is on starting at 9."

First of all, clearly Chuckster is a bit too emotionally invested in the celebrity softball game, to the point that he's sending angry text messages regarding its tardiness. Second of all, valid point. This same scenario plays out year after year. ESPN slots two hours for the Derby, it lasts closer to three, and softball is pushed way back. Wash, rinse, repeat.

David Ortiz emerged from a watered-down field last night. I watched Ortiz get interviewed by Erin Andrews. Shortly after, I went up to bed and flipped on the TV, only to see Jennie Finch pitching in the softball game. Really, I couldn't have been happier drifting off to sleep — Erin Andrews and Jennie Finch.

I sort of got the feeling that Finch was a little nervous simply because I was watching. It was probably nothing.

Though ridiculously tired, I purposely stayed awake to watch Bo Jackson hit. And Bo Jackson rewarded my resistance to sleep by blasting a Finch pitch not only over the make-shift softball fence in the outfield, but nearly over the regular Angel Stadium fence. No human being, apart from Chuck Norris (any maybe Tecmo Bo), should be able to hit a softball pitch some 375 feet.

Some lady by the name of Colbie Caillat is currently singing the Star Spangled Banner at Angel Stadium. She, too, seems to have a few butterflies knowing that I'm watching. Again, it's probably nothing.

The National League is out to a 3-1 lead. The NL is shooting for its first All-Star Game victory since 1894. That may or may not be accurate. It's been a while.

Just wrapped up my third column for the Budgeteer. The first three have been about lacrosse/soccer, marathon running and flugtag. In a related story, the Budgeteer's sports readership is down to single digits. Maybe I should just write a story about Lindsey Lohan volunteering to help at the Gulf oil spill, where LeBron James is seen beating helpless ducks. Now that would sell papers!

I missed Joe Mauer's at-bat(s) tonight, but I've penciled him in for a 4-6-3 double play and a walk.

George Steinbrenner passed away this afternoon at the age of 80. Love him or hate him, Steinbrenner did what every single sports fan yearns for from the owner of their team: He cared as much as the fans. He wanted to win and he spent accordingly. It's not his fault MLB can't institute a salary cap, and so Steinbrenner did what he had every right to do — he built (bought?) a dynasty. And he was passionate about the Yankees winning. He got pissed off when they didn't. He often had unrealistic expectations, and vented when said expectations weren't realized.

In other words, he behaved like most of us do when it comes to our favorite teams.

The AP is reporting that Nick Blackburn tried to watch the All-Star Game tonight, but he couldn't make it past the fourth inning.

Zing!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Twins score more runs than Tigers, win

This All-Star break couldn't come at a better time for the Twins, who have won just two of their past 10 games.

But they rode Carl Pavano, their mustachioed stopper, to a 6-3 win over the Tigers this afternoon to at least enter the break with a positive vibe.

Michael Cuddyer and Matt Guerrier took a page out of Pavano's book and sprouted mustaches for the first-half finale. I've tried to get in on the healing powers of facial hair with a modest soul patch, but I don't think it's working for me. Although I have had a pretty good run recently in bean bags, so who knows.

I kind of attribute that to just mind-boggling talent, though. And beer. Crazy talent and beer.

Ron Gardenhire announced today that Nick Blackburn will remain in the starting rotation after the break. Apparently Blackburn has naked photos of Gardy making out with another man, because there's no other conceivable explanation for the right-hander to keep his spot as a starter. I'm a fan of Blackburn, but he's single-handedly killing our bullpen with these two- and three-inning outings.

He needs a mustache. And beer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pops wants his arm back

Hey, Nick Blackburn, my dad called — he'd like his right arm back.

All you need to know about Blackburn's 2010 season: He pitched four-plus innings today and it was the longest start of his past six road outings.

Blackburn makes early push for LVP award

Nick Blackburn is making an early push for this week's LVP award.

He couldn't have been any less valuable during his crapfest of a start today. That was a poop platter combined with some urine and a cardigan sweater. Move over, Scott Baker, there's a new sheriff in town.

Kevin Slowey has relieved Blackburn on the bump. Apparently the Twins are just throwing as much garbage as they can at the Tigers and hoping to bore them into submission.

Is Mike Trombley next in line?

I was going to write more, but a buddy just called and invited me over for lasagna.

Long story short, I'm leaving.

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's time for the Twins LVP of the Week award

It's time for the Twins Least Valuable Player of the Week Award, an honor making its debut today and sure to become an infrequent edition to TwinkieTown. It's a pretty big deal.

By the way, there is another Twins blog with a similar name. It is called Twinkie Town, and it is way better than this one.

I don't really feel like looking back through the past week's box scores, so I'm just gonna go ahead and give the award to Scott Baker. I thought about expanding the week to include Kevin Slowey's last start, just so I could etch his name on the plaque, but that's not fair. Not to the LVP award or to Kevin Slowey's father.

I've never been a big fan of Baker. Seems like kind of a baby, one of those kids who, in elementary school, would smart off and then flee when it became apparent he was about to get his ass kicked. I have no proof to back that up, but if I had to take a shot at describing 8-year-old Scott Baker, that's what I would go with.

The Twins, a befuddling five games over .500, head to Detroit today for a three-game series to close out the first half and commence a three-day vacation. Weird, seems like they've been on vacation since Memorial Day. I've used a variation of that joke like 67 times the past few weeks. I need new material.

On the bright side, Country Jam is less than two weeks away. I've been excited for Country Jam since I left Eau Claire (site of Country Jam) in 2009. It's a spectacular weekend in which we wake up each morning and indulge in a few cocktails, start playing bean bags around noon and continue indulging in cocktails, go shower around 3 or 4, again while indulging in cocktails, then head up to the concert around 6 and really start to indulge in cocktails. Then we go to a dance and just start dumping the cocktails over our heads. ("Indulging in cocktails" sounds much more respectable than "drinking beer," but let's call a spade a spade — we're drinking beer.)

We repeat that scenario for three days.

When Sunday rolls around, we realize we're no longer in college and that we're going to feel the past three days until roughly October.

The nice thing about Country Jam, at least in terms of the 2010 Minnesota Twins, is that we're pretty much cut off from society. We have our cell phones, but they're dead by Friday and there's really no need to recharge them. There's a country store at the campsite that sells newspapers, which I buy religiously each morning, but it's the size of a church newsletter and there's not a ton if information in it. So if the Twins keep plugging along at a .250 clip, it won't affect my Country Jam.

Back on topic. The Mariners are reportedly anxious to move Cliff Lee. The longer they wait, the more his value drops and the risk of him getting injured (and really crushing his value) becomes greater. At this point, the Twins would have to include all five of their starting pitchers and a No. 4 super-sized from McDonald's to obtain Lee. Slowey looks like he'd be overmatched pitching for the Duluth Huskies and Wilson Ramos may or may not be dead.

Quick tangent about Ron Gardenhire. Why did he turn his back on the so-called small-ball so quickly? The Twins' time-honored style of play has a lengthy track record of success. Sure, it's deviated from true small-ball in recent years with the addition of more power, but the building blocks have remained: bunting, stealing, squeezing, giving up outs to get guys into scoring position, etc.

It's like he fell in love with the pretty cheerleader — in this case, the home run — and became obsessed. And it's not like he's new to the Twins' philosophy; he was raised in it. Pitching, defense, a few big hits, capitalizing on opponents' mistakes, etc. — basically forcing the action. Instead, the Twins sit around and wait for three-run home runs, which is about as exciting as watching Mash.

I need to start the day. LeBron James is a ... Heat. That sounds stupid, but I don't know what else you'd call him. Aside from a soul-less, responsibility-shirking guy who obviously wanted nothing to do with carrying a club on his shoulders, that is.

Honestly, after reading the Cavs owner's remarks following James signing with the Heat, I don't really blame LeBron for fleeing. Dan Gilbert said some of the dumbest things I've ever heard, including a personal guarantee (he used all CAPS for his letter to fans, but since I'm not 6 I am taking a different approach) that the Cavaliers would win a title before LeBron. Gilbert also said you can take that to the bank. So I'm going to Wells Fargo with a copy of that guarantee transcribed on a Post-It Note to see what kind of financial windfall it's worth.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Like the Twins, I took the past week off

Like this blog's namesake, I've pretty much taken the past week off.

Here I was, generating all this momentum for TwinkieTown and getting upwards of two hits a week, and I go on a Coors Light-fueled hiatus. And there was so much to write about over the past week — the bumbling Twins and their amped-up pursuit of Clifford Lee, LeBron and the flurry of NBA activity, Sturgeon Lake, Delmon Young realizing for the first time that he's left-handed, and the list goes on and on.

Let's start with an interesting tidbit passed along by ESPN's Buster Olney. Apparently, the Twins have offered Kevin Slowey and Wilson Ramos to the Mariners for Lee. In essence, Bill Smith just made the classic fantasy football offer. Package a couple glitzy — but woefully unproductive — names for a game-changer. Ramos is hovering just above the .200 mark at Triple-A, and Slowey has been sentenced to perpetual viewing of the Tom Emanski video.

It's a solid starting point, but the Twins will have to include at least one more blue-chipper to steal Lee.

At this point, though, will a guy who plays every fifth day do a whole hell of a lot for the Twins? They've morphed into a team of clunkers. What had all the makings of a versatile, dynamic offense has instead become a station-to-station, plodding attack. Sure, they can ring up homers, but when the ball's not flying out of the park, the Twins are uncharacteristically inept at manufacturing runs.

Not only that, but they play defense as well as the Class E softball squad I was on last summer at the Buffalo House — though that's kind of an insult ... to the softball squad. Tonight, Delmon Young was chasing a flyball that wasn't quite routine, and by "not quite routine" I mean he physically had to raise his arm over his head. On the difficulty scale ... the play didn't even register.

But Young, as only Delmon Young can do, muffed it. With Young in left and Jason Kubel in right, Denard Span should be allowed to play center field on a motorized scooter. A fast one. With big tires and everything.

My point? The Twins are one-dimensional after starting the season with a dazzling combination of speed, defense, guys who could hit for average and power, steady pitching, etc. Now? They need to crank it out of the park in order to win. That's a dangerous game plan. (At least it minimizes the potential impact of Scott Ullger.)

Along those lines, Cuddyer needs to — absolutely must — return to right field on a permanent basis. He's a decent enough defensive third baseman, but his batting average is falling faster than BP stock. Platoon Punto and Valencia at third, DH Kubel and give Thome three to four starts a week. There's enough at-bats to make it happen, especially now that the Twins are back full-time in the AL with the DH.

Let's move on. LeBron James is currently flying to Miami to meet with Pat Riley and the Miami Heat (I was gonna do the exact same thing tonight ... that would have been awkward). The Heat already have locked up Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. This juggernaut would be like the 2009-10 Timberwolves — only the exact opposite.

I got a kick out of the ESPN scroll on Tuesday night. Word got out that LeBron wanted to announce his decision during a one-hour special on ESPN. According to souces close to James, the scroll read, LeBron wanted to sell advertising for the special and donate the proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The scroll continued to read that "ESPN sources would not elaborate on the special, but would only confirm that both parties are talking" (that's not verbatim, but pretty close).

So ESPN reported that ESPN sources wouldn't confirm a story about ESPN programming? Hey, guy who writes the scroll, pick up the phone and dial an extension! You don't even have to dial "9" to make an external call.

A day earlier ESPN kept reporting on the scroll that Wade was flying back from Chicago to meet with members of the Heat's front office. And then Monday afternoon, the scroll announced breaking news — that Wade was seen entering the Heat's arena with Mickey Aronis, the team's owner. Yeah, you kind of told us that was going to happen for the previous 24 hours. Basically what the scroll said was "Breaking News: We weren't lying!"

I just spent about 200 words on the ESPN scroll.

What else happened? Oh, Brett Favre started throwing footballs to high school kids in Mississippi. He's about on schedule, then.

Other events of the past week included me getting pretty sunburnt. Which tends to happen when you sit on a boat in the middle of a lake for four hours and it's 90 degrees outside, doing nothing but drinking Coors Light, chewing the fat, and taking the occasional lunge into the water.

Anyways, because it's 10:30 and I'm exceptionally tired, I'll leave you with a picture from the weekend — even though it's approximately 632 degrees in my apartment and sleep is nothing more than a pipe dream.

Subjects of the ensuing photo include T-Spoon's dog, Scout, Mr. Blue Mountain, and part of my left hand (notice the death grip that hand has on the can of Coors Light).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hey, That's a Winning Streak

Seconds after Jon Rauch nailed down the Twins' 5-1 victory over Detroit this afternoon, I texted my buddy T-Spoon. My message simply said "Winning streak!" His response, which actually made me laugh out loud (LOL, if you will), was "Remember this feeling."

Hilarious, right?

But there's some validity to that. The win over the Tigers gave the Twins their first winning streak since another two-gamer June 19-20 at Philadelphia.

In between, they've been atrocious. And, as promised, I will retain a respectful amount of bitterness until they win three straight. Which could happen Thursday, with Carl Pavano's mustache slated to take on the Rays' Jeff Niemann at Target Field.

I've talked about Pavano's mustache for too long without providing photographic evidence of the P-stache's charm. That ends now. Photo courtesy of Google search (That's not proper attribution, but, honestly, roughly 2.5 persons read this blog on a daily basis, so ... I feel safe).



Just ... wow. A caterpillar is crawling across Carl Pavano's upper lip.

The NBA free agency period begins in 90 minutes. Technically, then, LeBron James could sign with the Timberwolves anytime after 11 p.m. Consider it done. It's gonna be awesome!

Best-case scenario: James re-signs with the Cavs. Teaming up with Dwyane Wade in Miami or Chris Bosh in Chicago will do little for James' long-term legacy. But if he stays in Cleveland and leads the Cavs to a handful of titles? That legacy is polished to a sheen and he forges his way into the "greatest player of all time" conversation.

Joining forces with fellow all-stars like Wade or Bosh — or both — on the other hand, is kind of ... well, lame.

Should be interesting to see how it all plays out. And to see whether the Wolves' David Kahn can re-sign the dubious Darko Milicic.

If Darko Milicic is the Wolves' big free-agent splash, I will become a Lynx fan.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

David Kahn is Wearing My Shirt ... From Third Grade

It's the fifth inning and Nick Blackburn is still pitching. This is like two starts rolled into one for Blackburn, who's grown accustomed to throwing an inning or two at a time.

I really question the logic of having Michael Cuddyer play third base. He's decent there, and I understand it enhances the offensive firepower, but I don't think Cuddyer feels comfortable at third. Consequently, his offense sputters.

The Twins have tried moving him around countless times over the years — third, first, second, center field, etc. (well actually there's no "etc." because I think I named 'em all). But Cuddyer has been at his best when he's the everyday right fielder. Just seems like he settles into a groove and relishes the stability.

David Kahn, the Timberwolves president of basketball operations, is being interviewed on FSN right now. Apparently he shops in the boys section at Target. Kahn is wearing a plain orange T-shirt, the fat-kid kind with a pocket on the chest. Well-played, David Kahn, well-played. If I was a free agent being courted by David Kahn and I saw him at a professional sporting event wearing a plain orange T, I'd have second thoughts about signing with the Wolves. Come on, David!

OK, back to Cuddyer. Actually I pretty much said everything I had to say on that topic. There may have been additional thoughts, but David Kahn wearing the same shirt I wore for my third-grade school picture has clouded my memory.

The Twins are winning 10-4. They're trying to climb back into first place. That sentence sucks. After they got off to a sizzling 19-9 start, I honestly believed a 100-win season was within reach. Not a sure thing, but I thought there was a chance the Twins were about to take the next step, from little-engine-that-could status to a bona fide juggernaut. Now, considering their swollen payroll and star-studded roster, they're the big engine that couldn't. Or at least the big engine that isn't.

I haven't seen much of tonight's game because I was writing a column for the Budgeteer. Over the weekend, I did a freelance article for the News Tribune. The topic was lacrosse. For the Budgeteer, I kind of piggybacked that topic and compared the uptick in lacrosse interest to that of 1990s-era soccer. You know, because nothing drives up readership like lacrosse and soccer.

I don't have grand plans to take over the world with my weekly Budgeteer column, but I would like to make it an anticipated read each week and provide authentic commentary on the area's sports scene. Perhaps stir the pot from time to time. So if this hard-hitting lacrosse/soccer piece doesn't jumpstart that process, well I don't know what will.

It's probably the only time I'll willingly write about soccer. I really detest that sport.

Interesting story about the U.S. soccer team. Well not so much about the team, but ... kind of. After the U.S. men beat Algeria to advance out of Group C (mildly ashamed I know which group they were in), a Hawaii newspaper — Star-Advertiser, I think is the name of the paper — made "USA OMG" its big headline.

Seriously, that headline sucks worse than Mike Trombley. Have some newspapers just quit trying? Or are they simply targeting that ever-expanding 12-14-year-old-girl demographic? As my buddy Chuck recently asked, how are some of these newspapers skirting child labor laws, because they're obviously employing elementary school students to write their stories and headlines?

Did I just see that Denard Span has four hits, including three triples? I'm happy Span has four hits in his return to the lineup. Wait, he's been playing all along?

This post is flowing about as well as mud in a crockpot. I'm all over the place. No rhythm.

I blame soccer and lacrosse.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Twins Win! No They Don't!

The Twins are no longer in first place.

Losing seven out of eight will do that to you.

Question: When was the last time a Twin not named Carl Pavano turned in a quality start? I honestly have no idea.

Also, I caught a quick glimpse of Jon Rauch in the bullpen tonight. I completely forgot he was a member of the Twins.

Wouldn't mind seeing him pitch in a save situation one of these days.

And remember last week when I said Francisco Liriano was a likely all-star?

That was dumb.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Power of the P-Stache

I look at what Carl Pavano's done the past month and I think one thing:

I'm growing a mustache!

Pavano twirled his second consecutive complete game this afternoon, this one a three-hit shutout of the Mets. Over his past two starts, Pavano has allowed just seven hits in 18 innings.

Even more impressive? He's been magical when the Twins needed it most. Last Sunday, he was matched up against Roy Halladay. Today, Johan Santana.

Pavano's ERA has dropped to an impressive 3.33.

Again, I'm growing a mustache.

Sweet Jesus I'm Rich

Just when I think my day can't get any better, an e-mail arrives saying I'm entitled to a Class Action settlement from a recent verdict against Classmates.com.

The best part?

AS A SETTLEMENT CLASS MEMBER, WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?

In addition to injunctive relief, as a Settlement Class member, if you do not exclude yourself from the Settlement and if you timely submit a Valid Claim Form, you are entitled to receive a credit of $2.00 off of the purchase or renewal of a w ww.classmates.com Gold Membership. Under the Settlement Agreement, Settlement Subclass members are entitled to receive either a cash payment of $3.00 or a credit of $2.00 off of the purchase or renewal of a w ww.classmates.com Gold Membership.

In addition to its cash and credit components, the Settlement also provides, on a non-opt out basis, for Defendants to provide injunctive relief to all Settlement Class and Settlement Subclass members. A description of the injunctive relief that Defendants are providing is set forth at the following website: www.cmemailsettlement.com.


Sweet Jesus that's good news.

I may have registered with Classmates.com years ago, like when I was still a classmate. Regardless, I'll be laughing all the way to the bank with that two bucks. Suckers!

Twins Shoot for One in a Row Against Mets

There are few things in life more enjoyable than country oldies and strong coffee on a Saturday morning. A little Sunday night bingo at the VFW and this would be a great weekend!

And, though I need to do a little more research to verify, there is a circular, yellow object in the sky this morning, which I believe to be the sun. Naturally, thunderstorms are forecast for this afternoon. It was good to see you, though, sun.

The underachieving Twins hook up with the properly achieving Mets at noon today. It's Johan Santana vs. Carl Pavano. What's more significant in this pitching matchup, the porn 'stache (we'll call it the p-stache in homage to Proctor, or P-town) or a filthy changeup?

Let's call it a draw.

Ron Gardenhire apparently delivered a pep talk to his team following Friday night's 5-2 loss, the Twins' fourth straight setback. No word yet on whether he also took the squad out for ice cream cones and soda.

A pep talk? What is this, Little League?

Here is what Gardy told Twinsbaseball.com:

"As I told the guys after the game, it's just not working out for us right now," Gardenhire said. "You've just got to play through it. You go through stretches where the ball doesn't go your way, it doesn't bounce your way and when you hit it hard, it seems to be at somebody. It's just happening right now that we're making a couple mistakes where we're shooting ourselves. So we just have to keep playing and work our way through it, get back on the good side.

"But there is a lot of character out there. These guys are feeling it a bit right now, they're disappointed. [It's] a long season and we've just got to keep grinding."

That's coach-speak for, "We're really playing like garbage, and because my team has the intestinal fortitude of a perch, I feel it necessary to massage their fragile egos. Also, I think some of them would cry if I said what I really feel. I need to get drunk."

This bitterness aimed at the Twins will continue until they win three consecutive games. Or until Jim Thome puts a ball in play.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Groundhog Day ... Again

My world has evolved into an ongoing edition of Groundhog Day.

It rains, the Twins lose and I go to bed feeling a little cheated by a summer day that includes rain and a Twins loss. June has featured three "officially sunny" days — I'm pretty sure the number is three, but it might be two. Also, I have no effing clue what "officially sunny" entails. Probably means the sun has to be visible for a certain number of hours for a day to qualify. Which is hard with daily fog advisories.

The Twins are in New York. Wish Kevin Slowey would have made the trip. Actually, I wish he wouldn't have. They are now three games under .500 over their past 45. Tonight it was Mike Pelfrey icing the Twins. It's Johan Santana's turn Saturday. Just a disastrous road trip so far.

On the plus side, Brendan Harris was sent to Triple-A Rochester this afternoon. Quick, who knew Harris was actually still playing for the Twins prior to today? I can't recall his last at-bat. Was he on the roster all spring? Wasn't he supposed to platoon at third base with Nick Punto? Seriously, what happened to Brendan Harris' major league baseball career? Hang in there, big guy!

The Arizona Diamondbacks' Edwin Jackson tossed a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. It was one of those no-hitters that kind of suck. Jackson walked seven and threw 69 pitches through three innings, and ended up with 149 pitches and, I believe, eight walks. If you walk that many batters, you shouldn't get credit for a no-hitter. Or, at the least, it should be accompanied in the record books by an asterisk.

There have now been five no-hitters this season (if you include Armando Galarraga's perfect game). What is this, fast-pitch softball?